At least 36 people died after a gunman burst into a Manila casino, firing shots and setting gaming tables alight, a spokesman for the Philippine president said on Friday, in what officials believe was a botched robbery attempt. There was no evidence linking the attack at the Resorts World Manila entertainment complex to fighting between government troops and Islamist militants in the country’s south, said Ernesto Abella, a spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte. “All indications point to a criminal act by an apparently emotionally disturbed individual”, Abella told a media conference. “Although the perpetrator gave warning shots, there apparently was no indication that he wanted to do harm or shoot anyone”.
Housands of civilians fled fighting in the Philippines on Wednesday as troops tried to fend off Islamist militants who took over large parts of Marawi city, taking hostages, seizing and torching buildings and setting free scores of prisoners. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the rampage via its Amaq news agency. The attacks came as President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law on Mindanao, the Muslim-majority island where Marawi city is located. The violence flared in Marawi on Tuesday afternoon after a botched raid by security forces on a hideout of the Maute, a militant group that has pledged allegiance to Islamic State. Fighters quickly dispersed, torching buildings and taking over bridges, a hospital, two jails, a church and a college. Duterte said he heard reports they may have beheaded a police chief.